As an addition to their facilities in Sri Lanka and India, coco coir manufacturer Pelemix opened their Thai production facility at the end of last year. By doing so, the company answers to the rising demand for coco substrates and to the challenges presented to the industry by raw material supply and climate changes.
"2018 was the first year of factory running", Eli Shalmon with Pelemix shares. "As with any starting business the year offered challenges in perspective of production, logistics and manpower. Now the production lines are in full swing."
Adding an extra facility has been on the wish list of Pelemix for some years now. “Using coco is on the rise in horticulture”, Eli tells us while showing various products and locations where the demand for the coco products is growing. “The vegetable growers have been an important supercharger of the growth of coco when it comes to the slabs. Nowadays we also see the use of coco being on the rise in soft fruit crops and medicinal cannabis plants, as well as the usual uses in the nurseries segment.”
The current developments in the coco supply chain show the importance of a stable supply. Pelemix recognized this a couple of years ago. Next to production facilities in both India and Sri Lanka, the company has set up production facilities in Thailand. “Within our company, planning is everything. This goes for the annual planning – stocking up the coco in the drying season and getting all the product ready for growers’ new seasons – as well as the year-by-year planning. The rising demand and climate change urged us to secure our base by expanding to other locations as well.”
Pelemix selected Thailand a couple of years ago. This is part of their long run challenging plan to double their production abilities in the coming 5-6 years.
“The area where we are located in Thailand has a good supply of raw material and a favorable working climate. Over the last couple of years we’ve invested a lot in the location, making it a full production and processing location. We’re working there now. The quality is perfect and we are confident in supplying growers from our new production facilities.”
As well as in their Sri Lankan and Indian facilities, in Thailand the manufacturing system designed by the company itself is installed. “This allows for greater control of the product's quality, before and after the processing. All the facility is based on production lines from raw material processing itself to the final finished products ready to ship.”
Besides the traditional product lines, there are several unique production lines in the Pelemix Thai facility. The site has specially developed production lines for the 3B - the product Pelemix developed for the blueberries and raspberries growing sector. Another new production line is the 'Semi Loose BigBale packaging line'. "The final product can be sent to different territories and save growers the need of expanding the traditional coco compressed bales", Eli shows.
Customer relationship planning
On a different level, planning is key for the company when it comes to their customer relations. “The coir solutions we offer, are not just based on a crop. We research a lot and offer growers different options based on the climate conditions, the type of greenhouse or covering and the irrigation system as well as growing method”, Eli explains. “Of course some coir products can be used in a large range of crops and conditions, but sometimes specific proportions are required. We always combine the growers' and crop conditions' needs and input with our vast knowledge and come to a product that’s designed to this customer specifically. Our agronomy know-how is definitely an important part of our product.”
For example the BlueBerryBlend (3B Multi-Drain OpenTop) was created to answer the needs of the blueberry industry. “The coco-blend was created following a specific recipe. It can be delivered in any pot and container size, but we also offer it in the OpenTop bag. Other than the general benefits of growing in coir – a higher yield, better control and possibility of harvesting earlier, for example – this also offers a high drainage capacity. Since the bag is UV protected, it replaces more expensive products like pots and containers. Some of our new products related to the cannabis industry – MJOT bags are a perfect professional solution for professional companies and growers, and it's part of the solutions available.”
"For the coming new year I wish all people involved in the coir industry a lot of success – finally we are all on the same side serving the advanced horticulture and agriculture industry for better results and professional achievement", Eli ends.